Book review: Just my Type

Posted on: September 5th, 2013 by Alexander Stanuga 1 Comment

After noticing this on the shelves of many bookstores over the years, I'd had it mentally earmarked to read for some time. Just my Type by Simon Garfield is light hearted and easy to follow book about fonts. Even if you arrive here armed with nothing more than an appreciation for the written word and no typographic background, this book is bound to spark in you a new reverence for typography and have you looking at street signs and bill posters in a new light. This is not a book about type designs but the stories that led to the creation of some of the worlds most loved and loathed type faces, typography's history is rich in folk lore and tales of old.

Experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, particularly coinciding with advancements in digital technology and online typography, initiated at least 30 years ago with Apple's original Macintosh. Today everyone is an expert and choice abounds, the ease by which new typographic families are created using sophisticated applications which were once the premise of highly skilled professionals or laboured over by hand in the workshop by typographers.

Quirky and well researched, full of interesting and some bizarre stories this is 'a book about fonts', Garfield has included some interesting and some humorous stories about the beginnings of some of today's most well exposed if not well known font families. The book starts with one of todays most contentious typefaces, 'Comic Sans', and goes to great lengths to explain the idiosyncratic history of the font from its humble beginnings in the Microsoft labs, through to its overuse as a friendly all as one choice for the ill informed.

As something we all take for granted, we see type everywhere and provided we can read and understand it's messages we rarely notice the messenger. This is a sure sign that the typography is doing it's job properly. During my recent time in the UK I found myself constantly running into examples from this book, it was difficult to ignore Edward Johnston's Johnston Sans permeating the entire London Underground network or being constantly exposed to Albertus whilst strolling through the City of London.

Some of the topics covered include Albertus and the City of London, Futura, Verdana, Doves, the ampersand and the the London 2012 Olympics. Though what book on the subject would be complete without the bizarre and rather sordid history of Typographer Eric Gill, the creator of Gill Sans. This is a well rounded history of the printed word filled with well researched and astonishing stories about well known fonts.

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    July 31, 2016



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